While you may not think your beloved pet is exotic, if she doesn’t purr or bark, she is likely classified as exotic by veterinary professionals. Not all veterinary hospitals work with feathered and scaled patients, because not all veterinarians have the experience or expertise required to care for exotic species. 

Dr. Steve Haymore and Dr. Mike Long at our hospital have extensive experience with exotic pets, so we welcome all your pets, whether they fly, run, or slither.

Preventive care for exotic pets

The old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but for exotic pets, we say that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton. Exotic species mask their illnesses extremely well, because they instinctively know that the sick members of the pack or flock are the first to be preyed upon. Exotic pets can appear 100% healthy, when they are actually harboring life-threatening illnesses. 

Many exotic pets are presented with medical crises, when any therapy has a reduced chance of success. By scheduling routine wellness exams, we can detect health problems earlier and start therapy before there are clinical signs, generally with much more success. 

Wellness exams allow us to ensure that your pet is in good health, perform a risk assessment and routine grooming, and answer your medical or husbandry questions. They also give us a chance to review your exotic pet’s living arrangements and diet. Many exotic species require highly specific environments and food—after all, none are meant to live indoors in climate-controlled houses, eating commercially available diets. 

Maintaining your pet’s beaks, wings, nails, and teeth is important, and we can trim your pet’s wing, beak, or toe nails, and check her teeth during the exam. Some species, such as rabbits and rodents, have special dental needs, and sedation may be required for a full oral examination. In these species, problems with their teeth can result in a reluctance to eat, so addressing their oral health is important. 

During the risk assessment section of your exotic pet’s physical exam, we will discuss:

  • Age — Certain health conditions affect pediatric pets more than geriatric pets, and vice versa. Considering your pet’s age, what health conditions could be impacting her?
  • Nutrition — What do you feed your pet? Is it nutritionally appropriate for the species? Does an unbalanced diet put her at risk for metabolic disease? 
  • Infectious disease — Is your pet at risk of infectious disease, and if so, which infectious diseases are prevalent in the species? Do you have a new pet who could be harboring disease?
  • Reproductive history — Reproductive tract disease is common in reptiles, birds, and mammals, particularly in females. In some species, determining the sex is challenging, and owners often incorrectly identify their pet’s sex. We will correctly sex your exotic pet, and discuss her reproductive health, including the risks and benefits of surgical spay or neuter, if appropriate.
  • Weight — Is your pet’s weight appropriate, or is she obese or underweight?

Diagnostic plan for exotic pet wellness

The physical exam will give us clues about the overall health of your exotic pet, but we may ask permission for further testing to give us a better understanding of her health status. We may ask for a blood sample for a complete blood count and chemistry profile that will tell us how well your pet’s major organs are functioning, and her red and white blood cell levels. Other screening tests may be indicated, depending on your pet’s species, such as a fecal examination for parasite presence in reptiles, and skin scrapings for pets with skin lesions. 

Plan for your exotic pet’s future

After we have examined your exotic pet and obtained samples for diagnostic testing, we will develop her care plan. If she is eligible for vaccines, we will talk about the risks and benefits, and whether we need to shore up your pet’s husbandry routine. 

Exotic pets aren’t meant to live in a static environment. They are naturally curious and intelligent creatures who need enrichment every day to avoid boredom and behavior problems.

If it’s been a while since we checked your exotic pet, give us a call. We welcome all kinds of pets, from no legs to two legs and everything in between. We also can help with ideas to enrich your pet’s daily routine.